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Shumbalala Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
67 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Wow.”
Reviewed March 26, 2014

I've done what I would term a 'luxury' safari once before in South Africa, but Shumbala provided not only incredible, intimate accommodation, but also fabulous game viewing opportunities, come rain or shine! The lodge itself is right in the middle of the Thornybush reserve, and to be welcomed by the exceedingly friendly stuff and a cup of iced tea was just what we needed after the bumpy ride in (try to get a 4x4 if you're driving yourself there!). Our room was beautiful, and the three visits a day from housekeeping meant that despite our best efforts, it stayed that way!

The game drives were incredible. We were lucky in seeing a leopard just enjoying itself at the side of the road and not minding us being so close, but our ranger really went the extra mile to ensure we saw absolutely everything we could, and safely. When a rhino was hiding away on our last drive, we were led on foot (at a safe distance, I might add!) to take a look - really an incredible experience. I was also pretty smug that while some lodges were sending out packed 9-seater vehicles, there were only 4 of us at Shumbalala at the time, and I believe that with a maximum of 8 for safari, they will always provide a personal experience with great views when on the drives.

The food was great throughout the trip, with the chef and her team taking into account any and all food whims and making sure we never went hungry.

Overall, this place was awesome. We saw everything we could have hoped for, slept in beautiful surroundings, and drank and ate until we burst, with very friendly staff around to help us at all times.

Thank you Shumbalala!

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Joanna B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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241 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (66)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed March 11, 2014

O.M.G. Shumbalala has done it again. As if our first visit to Shumbalaa wasn't fantastic enough....our second visit was simply unbelievable!
Food - absolutely delicious!
Staff - unbelievably professional & super friendly
Game viewing - you won't find any better (guaranteed)
Accommodation - stunning, large, extremely comfortable, and beautifully decorated.

As this is my second review for Shumbalala Lodge, I will keep it simple - you are a crazy if you don't stay here!

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Bear1376
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ashland, Oregon
Level Contributor
28 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed February 18, 2014

During our recent trip and cruise to Africa and Asia, we went on safaris at a half dozen different sites. Nothing came even close to Shumbalala. The safaris were terrific, and the lodge setting was beyond belief. Our visit there followed three days at a somewhat simpler facility, which was also wonderful, but Shumbalala showed us what perfection in safaris really is.

Room Tip: All five rooms are perfect.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Roman4Holidays
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surrey, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
40 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed February 11, 2014

We stayed here for 3 nights at the end of January/beginning of February 2014. This was our 8th safari and our second visit to Shumbalala, which is the only safari lodge we have visited more than once. Our first visit was immediately after the very bad floods of January 2012 that hit the Hoedspruit area badly and caused some destruction in other camps in the Thornybush reserve. Fortunately, Shumbalala was almost unscathed on that occasion, apart from having had a flooded wine cellar. We had such a wonderful time in 2012 that we just HAD to go back again. Shumbalala was like a magnet!

So we arrived in late January of 2014 for a second bite at the cherry – and what a juicy cherry it is!

A really lovely, welcoming, place to stay with excellent, frequently-serviced, accommodation, great food and wine, splendid game drives, etc. What makes the whole place work is a superb staff team who are attentive to detail, professional, knowledgeable, friendly and exceptionally likeable. You could build the most luxurious game lodge in the world, but it wouldn’t work properly without the right staff in place. Shumbalala has the right staff and so it succeeds supremely well.

Sincere thanks to everybody at Shumbalala: Jeandra, Vic, Wayne, Herman, Annelle, Lynne and all the housekeeping and maintenance staff. We had a stunningly wonderful stay with you! And many thanks for the special treat on our last evening with you – it was very much appreciated.

The magnet is already pulling us back for a third visit.

Room Tip: As far as I am aware the rooms are ALL good.
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank croquetmike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
East Coast
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed February 6, 2014

My wife and I stayed here for three nights towards the end of January. Despite the weather not cooperating (we were rained on 5 of 6 game drives), we had an absolute fantastic time. The lodgings themselves actually look better than the pictures - and we thought the pictures were amazing. Our lodge was spacious, clean, comfortable and the fire they lit after our "wet" game drives really added a nice, personal touch. The floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the bush were fun as we could see the animals roaming around outside the lodge. In fact, during our first afternoon there, a family of warthogs was eating steps away from our front door!

Our ranger/scout team of Wayne and Herman were great. They had good humor, were informative (I particularly liked how Wayne engaged us rather than lectured us about the plants/animals), and were really good at finding the animals and catering the experience to our interests. I learned more than I ever expected. Seeing the animals (elephants, giraffes, lions, etc.) up close was an unforgettable experience. Even as we were getting pelted in the rain, I oftentimes found myself smiling at how awesome the experience was. The drives never got boring.

The staff back at the lodge were excellent. Anelle & co. were very friendly and accommodating. The food was five-star worthy. I've done a lot of traveling to Europe, Asia and all across North America and I expected the kitchen at a lodge in the middle of a game reserve to be just "fine." Instead, the food was amazing from morning to evening and was certainly something we looked forward to every day. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that "afternoon tea" wasn't just tea, but also had delicious fried shrimp, savory sandwiches, beef kebabs, etc. Every one staying at Shumbalala raved about the food.

Thornybush itself is a nice reserve. One of our fellow travelers was in the travel business and he intimated to us that Thornybush was one of the best reserves and Shumbalala was an excellent choice (no surprised to us since we don't know how it could be better). Given South Africa's distance to the U.S., I thought traveling there might be a once-in-a-lifetime event since I still have many other countries that I want to visit. Having experienced Shumbalala, however, has made me rethink that and I can't wait to return in the near future.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank grendaal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stamford, Connecticut
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 5, 2014

We stayed at Shumbalala for our honeymoon and it was absolutely amazing!

Our ranger Wiehan and tracker Palence at the main Thornybush lodge greeted us. As this was our first safari we were very excited about seeing the animals on our drive from the main lodge to the Shumbalala lodge. Wiehen and Palence stopped to let us take pictures although they knew we were going to see many more impalas and zebras in the next 4 days!

When we arrived to Shumbalala we were greeted by the entire staff, Anele, Michelle and Lynne in particular stand out. We were told to settle in and be ready for tea and an evening game drive that afternoon. Our lodge was spotless and clean. It included a beautiful fireplace that we did use one afternoon as we napped. The outdoor shower and patio was a nice addition. However, the nighttime bedtime stories regarding the animals were a nice touch.

We had to be up very early for game drives but there were no complaints as Wiehan would ask what we wanted to see and he would make it a point to drive to the respective areas where he heard there were sightings of these animals. Palence was so kind to set up hot water bottles, individual blankets and clean jackets for each of us during the cold mornings.

Although we saw some animals, like impalas, giraffes and zebras more than once, Wiehan made it feel like we were seeing the animals for the first time. Wiehan was a wealth of knowledge and provided us with the most interesting information on all the animals. Palence had an amazing eye, as he was able to spot the smallest animals in trees even during our evening drives. We were able to see 4 of the big 5 and made it very close to seeing the 5th (leopard which is very hard to catch). We have never come so close to elephants as we did on this safari and it was worth all the excitement.

The cuisine prepared by Lynne and Michelle was amazing and everything was beyond our expectations. We had tea and coffee before our game drive, come back to a continental breakfast to snack on while we individually ordered anything under the sun, omelets, scrambled eggs, fried egg. Name it they would make it. We would relax for the afternoon and be ready for high tea at 3:30pm. High tea included small sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, quesadillas, apple tarts; it was like a mini upscale buffet with specialty drinks. During high tea chef Lynne would provide the menu so she knew what to prepare for our dinner. The wine cellar was nicely stocked and very reasonably priced. It was nice to actually pick out your own bottle rather than from a menu. Although we were at the lodge for all our meals, we sat in different parts of the lodge so it felt different everyday. Overall not only was there an abundance of food at every meal function but the view of the watering hole was a plus.

The entire staff was most accommodating and attentive. We would love to return to Shumbalala as it was an experience we will never forget and highly recommend staying here!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank gcrosse728
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston
Level Contributor
116 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 172 helpful votes
Reviewed November 24, 2013

We just spent 4 idyllic days at Shumbalala Game Lodge with fabulous cuisine prepared by Lynn and Michelle, and the most exciting game drives with our ranger Wiehan and tracker Herman. In fact, the dinners served there rivaled, if not exceeded, the quality of the meals we had at some of the renowned restaurants in Cape Town and Franschhoek. Particularly, the beef filet melted in your mouth. As for the game drives, each day brought new experiences. While we saw all the big 5 by the second day, we continued to rise at 5:00, then braved the oppressive heat at 16:00 or 17:00 on the 3rd and 4th days, to see more animals in different settings. Wiehan made certain to visit all the areas of reported sightings of the big 5, and each time we felt as if we were seeing the animals for the first time. On our last drive, after other rangers alerted him to a leopard sighting, Wiehan immediately headed in that direction. However by the time we reached the destination, the leopard had moved on (as animals are wont to do; unless asleep, they don't tend to remain stationary). For the next 20 minutes, we watched 2 pros in action as Herman saw leopard tracks on the road and other signs in the bush possibly indicating a trail the leopard left. Quietly pointing and gesturing, he directed Wiehan in a search for the leopard. Just as the sun was setting and making sighting difficult, Wiehan slowed the Land Rover and called out for us to look at the base of a tree. And there it was. Despite our having seen a leopard already on the 2nd day, this "chase" and subsequent sighting was just as, if not more, thrilling. It also seemed to us that for Wiehan, after years of being a ranger, this experience does not get old. Our thrills are his thrills and he does his best to ensure that we all enjoy every minute of every game drive. His knowledge of the animals and conservation policies is extensive, and we feel very fortunate that he and Herman were our hosts on the drives.
As for the accommodations, our suite was spacious and beautifully appointed. We loved having 2 lavatories, a separate tub and shower AND the outdoor shower. The air conditioning provided a necessary respite from the heat outside. While the public areas such as the outdoor dining rooms are not air-conditioned, there is misting equipment that can lower the ambient temperature. All the suites open to decks that overlook a large watering hole about 500 meters away. Various animals stop by to drink water. We saw warthogs, impalas, waterbucks, kudus and wildebeests passing through. One day, a herd of about 50 Cape Buffaloes took over the watering hole for a spa day. It was fascinating to watch a continuous parade of buffaloes as they lumbered into the area and crowded next to other buffaloes. They must have occupied the spot for several hours before moving on.
Since there were 4 couples in our group traveling together and occupying the 4 suites at the lodge, Wiehan, Michelle, Wayne and Anele seemed more like a family hosting us at their home rather than staff waiting on us at a hotel. They were most hospitable and accommodating. While attentive, they were never intrusive, the best hosts and hostesses one could hope for. My husband and I loved our stay at Shumbalala and I can speak for the other 3 couples in saying that we had absolutely the best time ever.

Room Tip: All 4 suites are the same. The 5th suite is a 2-bedroom Presidential Suite with its own private poo...
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank txchic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shumbalala Game Lodge

Property: Shumbalala Game Lodge
Address: Thornybush Game Reserve | Greater Kruger, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Shumbalala Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
It’s a vast, wild place where the lions roam at Shumbalala Game Lodge, deep in the Thornybush GameReserve, one of the country’s great tracts of untamed game-viewing.Set as it is in a dry, singeing savanna of Mopane, Acacias and Umbrella thorns, quartered by easterly-flowing rivers densely shrouded in giant figs, fever trees and phoenix palms, the land is an ancient tapestry of natural wonder.Over-head the Loeries call their sharp warning while horn-bills swoop in an ungainly ballet between trees whilst vultures elevate on thermals portending an electric storm.As you push on through the bush it is the serendipity of nature that amazes most as your vehicle skirts art deco zebra, dozy giraffe, bright eyed bush babies, wildebeest (made, it is said, by the committee of left-over parts) and the rest Africa has to offer.It is even more of an adventure when you stumble upon a leopard lazing in the V of a Jackalberry tree or; a hyena giving you a lazy yellow eye in the gathering dusk; a majestic bull elephant crashing its way through the riverine thicket in search of sweet reeds or; a surprise sunrise encounter with a lion pride on the prowl.This is the world of Shumbalala. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Shumbalala Game Hotel Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Shumbalala Game Lodge South Africa/Thornybush Private Game Reserve

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